Cobalt Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL)

Europe needs cobalt to meet its political ambitions on strategic autonomy, on green growth, on sustainability and circularity, and security.

The Cobalt Institute supports an OEL (inhalable) of 20 µg Co/m3, which is a tough, world-leading value. CI also supports the addition of an OEL (respirable) of 5 µg Co/m3, a relatively new and additional measure to avoid further adverse effects. Together, these two OELs can protect workers in cobalt workplaces across Europe.

CI’s socio-economic evidence shows that implementing these two values would still allow most cobalt industry sectors to continue operating competitively, limiting the impact on investment, and allowing Europe to continue meeting its political ambitions.

This compares to 10 µg Co/m3 and 1 µg Co/m3 limit values, which would both have existential impacts on Europe’s cobalt industry and compromise Europe’s ability to achieve its political goals.

These facts are evidenced through the Cobalt Institute’s robust socio-economic impact assessment, which is available in full below.

The EU Commission is currently working on implementing an EU-Wide Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL) for cobalt and inorganic cobalt compounds.

This is a multi-step process involving expert input into scientific, socioeconomic and political discussions. The value(s) that come out of these discussions will impact cobalt workplaces in all steps of the cobalt value chain in Europe.

The Cobalt Institute supports the introduction of an OEL and has contributed to the process throughout its various stages. This includes providing industry data generated from the socio-economic studies:

  • Economics for the Environment Consultancy (eftec) Socio-Economic Impact Assessment – which assesses the socio-economic impacts of OEL levels from 1 – 30 µg Co/m3 to establish the impact each level would have on society.
  • Risk and Policy Analysts (RPA) Study on The Impact of Potential OELs on EU Strategic Goals – which assesses the impacts of OEL levels from 0.1 to 20 µg Co/m3 on the specific EU environmental and economic policy goals.

The studies share the same conclusion – that values that are too low would have a negative impact on Europe’s cobalt industry, compromising Europe’s ability to remain competitive in green value chains, to achieve a circular economy, and to secure strategic autonomy. These effects would reverberate across the value chain, making industries less competitive and making supply chains less secure.

Access to the Cobalt Institute studies:

To receive access to the documents please fill out the form below. Once done, all the files become visible and can be downloaded.

If you want to receive more information on how to support the Cobalt Institute on this matter or have any questions, please contact:

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The Cobalt Institute (CI) has conducted research to characterise environmental exposures and possible effects of cobalt to a range of organisms.

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